Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Inexplicable Charisma Of The Rival

Steven Moffat has said that fans of Doctor Who can expect to see a lot more cliffhangers during his time on the show. Saturday's episode of the popular family SF drama saw a dramatic cliffhanger in which the Doctor and Rory discovered that Amy had been kidnapped. Moffat said that this is something he has purposefully reintroduced to the series, telling Radio Times: 'The only thing that was missing when Doctor Who came back this time was that there weren't enough cliffhangers. Do you remember in the old days? The music crashing in just as the Doctor finds out ... I love that. Plus it encourages the audience to come back. So we are bringing the cliffhanger back in force.' The Doctor Who showrunner also defended himself over criticism that the series has become 'too complicated' and 'too horrific' since he took over from Russell Davies. Although 'criticism' from whom - other than cretinous glakes with the attention span of seven seconds or thuggish bullyboy right-wing lice-scum newspapers with an agenda - the magazine did not say. 'You have to pay attention,' Moffat said. 'You can't watch it when you are doing the ironing. And you certainly can't watch it when you are tweeting. You have to sit down and focus, and a child audience certainly does that.' Of course, telling some modern TV viewers that they shouldn't be tweeting whilst watching a TV show is a bit like trying to convince David Cameron that all of the bands he claims to have 'rilly liked' as a teenager collectively hate his breathing guts and everything he stands for, it just does not compute. Moffat also confirmed that he has no plans to bring back perennial Doctor Who adversaries the Daleks any time soon, claiming the villains have been overused since the show returned in 2005. 'We thought it was about time to give them a rest,' he explained. 'They are the most famous of the Doctor's adversaries and the most frequent, which means they are the most reliably defeatable enemies in the universe.' Which, of course, just about every national newspaper picked up on as a story about Daleks stories disappearing completely when The Moffster presumably meant they wouldn't be used in the next series. Even better, if you happen to read that bastion of accurate reporting the Daily Scum Mail (yes, I know, but let's just suppose), you will discover - quite possibly to your surprise - that, apparently, the Daleks appeared in Doctor Who's 'second episode' (which they didn't, they first appeared at the end of the fifth, obliquely, and start of the sixth in full vision), that they were designed by one 'Ray Crusick' (which they weren't, it was Ray Cusick) apparently, and that they reappeared with new red, yellow and blue colours 'in 2005.' Which they didn't. Nice one, you Scum Mail lice. Always good to see you keeping up your usual penchant for talking absolute and total shite at every opportunity.

Doctor Who guest star Frances Barber has revealed details about her role in this week's mid-series finale. The actress will appear as Madame Kovarian in Saturday night's episode of the popular BBC family SF drama, A Good Man Goes To War. Barber told Total TV Guide: 'She's popped up in several episodes, but until now you're not sure who she is, or who she is even talking to.' She added: '[Kovarian is] involved with Amy's pregnancy, before and after the birth, and is in charge of a band of soldiers.' Barber, who has made cameo appearances in four recent episodes, also praised her character's unusual outfit. 'It's a very fitted Forties femme-fatale look, but it has a futuristic twist,' she explained. 'It's a powerful, dominatrix look, though not in a sexual way. Doctor Who is a family drama!'

Top Twenty programmes week-ending 22 May 2001:-
1 Britain's Got Toilets - ITV Sat - 9.81m
2 EastEnders - BBC1 Mon - 9.69m
3 Coronation Street - ITV Mon - 9.17m
4 The Apprentice - BBC1 Wed - 8.10m
5 Doctor Who - BBC1 Sat - 7.35m
6 Emmerdale - ITV Mon - 7.04m
7 BBC News - BBC1 Sun - 6.70m
8 Countryfile - BBC1 Sun - 6.25m
9= Waterloo Road - BBc1 Wed - 5.87m
9= Vera - ITV Sun - 5.87m
11 Holby City - BBC1 Tues - 5.68m
12 Casualty - BBC1 Sat - 5.55m
13 The British Academy Television Awards - BBC1 Sun - 5.40m
14 The British Soap Awards 2011 - ITV Wed - 5.31m
15 Strangeways - ITV Mon - 5.28m
16 Ten O'Clock News - BBc1 Tues - 5.20m
17 Crimewatch UK - BBC1 Tues - 5.01m
18 Long Lost Family - ITV Thurs - 4.88m
19 Formula One: The Spanish Grand Prix - BBC1 Sun - 4.75m
20 The ONE Show - BBC1 Tues - 4.72m
The ITV figures do not include ITV HD which are, for some reason, counted seperately. BBC2's top-rated show of the week was Louis Theroux: Miami Mega-Jail - Sun - 3.44m. Channel Four's was 24 Hours In A&E - Wed - 2.41m. Channel Five's was CSI - Tues - 2.61m. And the most-watched multi-channel show was Celebrity Juice - ITV2 Thurs - 2.25m

Ray Winstone is to star in a television adaptation of Charles Dickens's Great Expectations, the BBC has announced. The three-part drama will be part of BBC1's Christmas programming. Sarah Phelps's adaptation will form the centrepiece of the BBC's celebration of the 2012 bicentenary of Dickens's birth. In his first BBC television appearance in five years, Winstone will star as Abel Magwitch alongside Douglas Booth, who is to play Pip. Filming will begin in July in London. 'Great Expectations is my favourite novel and I'm thrilled to be playing Magwitch,' growled Big Ray. 'I've wanted to play him for ages, I'm really excited about Sarah Phelps's take on the story and I can't wait to get stuck in.' Ben Stephenson, the controller of BBC drama commissioning, said: 'Sarah's adaptation is both suspenseful and thrilling and the casting of Ray and Douglas for our visceral retelling will capture the hearts and guts of this classic to mark Dickens's bicentenary year, especially for Christmas on BBC1.' Phelps said: 'Great Expectations is one of my favourite novels, an epic story about obsession, corruption, revenge, redemption and forgiveness. It is dark and complex, with the shadow of the gallows always present, but beating throughout is the passionate human heart. Ultimately, it is a story of what we will do, what we will risk and just how far we will go for love.' The BBC said the rest of the cast would be announced soon.

Senior BBC executives are to begin holding briefings with staff over the next couple of weeks to share 'emerging thinking' about director general Mark Thompson's Delivering Quality First cost-saving initiative. Thompson is trying to use DQF to work out how the BBC can manage with a six-year licence fee freeze and taking on additional funding obligations such as BBC World Service. Earlier this year, a consultation was held with staff to come up with cost-saving ideas. A fortnight ago BBC senior management met at two away days at one of the BBC's sites in Caversham Park in Berkshire to begin the process of whittling down the suggestions. In an e-mail to BBC staff, Thompson said that 'around ten thousand of you have got involved in some way in Delivering Quality First.' He said that at the meetings in Caversham senior managers 'heard the draft recommendations from all nine workstreams. We spent two days discussing and debating them, taking some on to the next stage, rejecting others. Now we've begun to fit them together into what will ultimately be an integrated set of proposals which over the next few months we will take first to the executive board and then the BBC Trust,' Thompson added. 'Nothing has yet been formally proposed, let alone decided – which is why you should continue to take those alleged "leaks" with a big pinch of salt – but I've asked all of the BBC's directors to hold briefings for their part of the BBC from June onwards to share some of the emerging thinking with you.' Thompson is also planning to arrange a briefing for the whole BBC on what he called 'The world in 2016 – our picture of what audiences, technology and media competition could look like in five years' time.' Proposals suggested so far include replacing some of the dedicated reporters on Radio 4's Today and other news programmes with a 'pooled' system of journalists, and axing overnight programmes on BBC1 and BBC2. Other ideas that have been mooted include scrapping regional TV news bulletins at lunchtime and breakfast, ditching BBC2's daytime schedule, repeating natural history documentaries and BBC1 dramas more often and cutting BBC1's budget. Thompson told staff he realised DQF is 'going to mean some difficult choices,' but said it is an 'opportunity – to get our priorities right, to prepare the BBC for the next chapter in the digital story, to tackle some of the obstacles that get in the way of creativity and quality.'

Senna director Asif Kapadia has revealed that the Top Gear team loved his documentary about late Formula 1 racing driver Ayrton Senna. Kapdia, who picked up the Sundance World Cinema Audience Award for the film, revealed that Senna convinced Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson that the Brazilian was the greatest ever F1 driver. 'Top Gear's watched by millions around the world, people on the moon are probably watching it right now!' Kapadia told the Digital Spy website. 'They came to see the film and they loved it. What's interesting is that Jeremy Clarkson came to see it and said, "I walked in as a big [Michael] Schumacher fan." He was going to argue why Schumacher was better than Senna. He saw the film and totally changed his tune.' The director added that he is pleased Top Gear will expose his movie to a huge worldwide audience. 'They've been really supportive and it's one of those shows that gets syndicated around the world and so people in America watch Top Gear and say, "We've got to see the Senna film." We're happy with that,' he explained.

Channel Five has pulled magic-based game show Impossible? after just two episodes but will give it a second shot when it revives Big Brother later this year. The game show, co-produced by Gogglebox Entertainment and GroupM Entertainment, aired in a 10pm Thursday night slot and drew below-par ratings. Originally meant to run over six weekly instalments, it debuted on 12 May with an average audience of five hundred and eighty five thousand viewers and lost nearly one hundred thousand viewers the following week. It was well below the channel's slot average of nine hundred and seven thousand viewers for the year to date and has since been replaced by films over upcoming weeks. However, a C5 spokesman said the broadcaster was pleased with how it performed 'with younger viewers' and confirmed it would return later in the year when it could relaunch the series alongside other entertainment shows such as Big Brother. 'Impossible? has performed really well amongst our core sixteen to thirty four audience,' the spokesman said. 'We have taken the decision to play out the rest of the series later this year, so that we can schedule it with other key upcoming shows including Big Brother. We're confident that this blend of entertainment and reality will resonate with viewers and work well for the channel.' The show is hosted by illusionist Philip Escoffey, who attempts to outwit contestants out of a big-money prize. The contestants are challenged to decide whether the challenges proposed by Escoffey are achievable or impossible. It they call it right, there is a cash prize worth up to forty grand.

Cheryl Cole is said to be 'depressed' following her sacking from The X Factor USA last week. 'Friends' of the singer say she has not stopped crying since returning from America. That'll just be happiness for being back in Newcastle. Even I get that a lot. 'Cheryl wasn't in the right frame of mind to commit to such a big project like The X Factor USA and it has ended up making her feel even worse after being rejected,' a 'source close to Cole' allegedly told the Mirra. 'She felt lost and just didn't enjoy life in America.' The 'insider' also claimed that Cole's problems became apparent as soon as she arrived in the US to begin work on the show. 'She was telling people she wanted to go home and although she was smiling for the cameras she was crying inside,' they continued. 'She spent weeks feeling homesick and staying in her hotel room.' Cole is said to have flown home from the US last week to stay with her family, and has so far kept a low profile. 'She is taking hardly any calls and there have been lots of tears all week, she is really down and depressed,' the 'source' allegedly added. Cole, Cowell, and ITV' have yet to make any comment regarding the singer's current status with regard to the US version of The X Factor. She definitely won't be appearing in the UK version, however. Yesterday, N-Dubz's Tulisa Contostavlos was officially confirmed as one of the new judges for The X Factor UK, alongside Gary Barlow, returning judge Louis Walsh and former Destiny's Child member Kelly Rowland.

Ant and Dec have joked that they are in danger of losing their jobs as Britain's Got Talent hosts in the wake of Cheryl Cole's exit from The X Factor USA. Oh, if only wishing made it so. Meanwhile another regular gobshite, Coleen Nolan, has called on Cheryl Cole to 'give herself a kick up the backside' (which is, of course, anatomically impossible, but we'll let that one pass for the moment) and bounce back from 'a terrible week.' Although what the frig any of this has to do with a faded old has-been with a face like a prune such as Nolan is, frankly, beyond this blogger. Anyone? And finally, in the 'let's use the Cheryl Cole situation to get our name in the newspapers' department, another faded old has-been with a face like a prune, Peter Andre, has reportedly advised Cole to 'roll with the punches.' Or, maybe he was talking about Amir Khan? Perhaps we'll never care.

Cole has reportedly failed to respond to any attempts at contact from Simon Cowell, as he is said to have told 'friends': 'She's had it with me.' I don't know about you, dear blog reader but that sounds more like her than him. Very 'Northern' phrase, 'had it with me,' don't you think? Cole has apparently ignored the music mogul following her still-unconfirmed departure from The X Factor USA. At least, this is all according to the Sun so it's probably lies. Cowell is said to have 'faced boos' from the Britain's Got Talent audience last night as he returned to the judging panel, although curiously only the Sun is reporting this. 'As soon as the warm-up guy said, "Simon is in the building," everyone suddenly started booing. People were saying, "That's for Cheryl,"' a 'source' allegedly said. Anonymous, of course. 'He was saying, "She's had it with me. I've hurt her and she won't forgive me for this." He is really worried that she won't speak to him ever again. Simon feels guilty as hell about what has happened to Cheryl. He has admitted it was a cock-up but she won't hear him out.' The 'insider' continued: 'They used to be so close. She'd text him round the clock for advice. Now she can't bring herself to speak to him. He feels like he's lost a lover.' Cole apparently decided against watching Cowell's return to Britain's Got Talent. 'Simon was putting on a brave face last night, smiling as if everything was fine. But the reality is, he's had the worst week of his professional and personal life,' a 'friend' is quoted as saying. We'll have to presume that the 'friend' is a different source from the 'insider' although the Sun's piece doesn't make this entirely clear. 'Cheryl had no intention of watching Simon's big night. It was the last thing she would be interested in. She still feels badly let down and seeing his face will make her more upset. Cheryl spent most of the evening checking out possible holiday destinations. She can't wait to get as far away from all this attention as possible and was eyeing up destinations in the middle of nowhere.'

Meanwhile, on the subject of shallow talent-show TV non-entities, big-arsed sitcom flop Amanda Holden has revealed that she has developed a taste for reality shows like Katie and Peter Andre: The Next Chapter. Quite how this constitutes 'news', I'm not sure but I run it anyway on the off chance that some crushed victim of society somewhere might find it informative. The Britain's Got Talent judge said that despite the criticism often levied at shows of that type, they are her 'guilty pleasure when relaxing. Katie Price, Peter Andre and Kerry Katona's shows - they're great bad telly,' Holden told the Radio Times. And, let's face it, she knows all about bad telly. Big Top, for one. 'I've developed a soft spot for Peter Andre. I was never a fan of his music but he comes across as a really good dad and I'm a sucker for stuff like that.' While Holden has no shame in admitting her love of reality shows, she is also happy to reveal which shows she hates the most. 'Frankie Boyle. I loathe him,' Holden explained. One is sure that the feeling is, entirely, mutual. 'I don't think he's funny or clever and I don't understand why anyone would give him a television show. You can print that." And they did. Although, without getting into a debate here about whether Mad Frankie is, or isn't funny, the suggestion that Amanda Holden, of all people, can criticise someone for being 'not funny' after the crimes sahe committed against comedy in Big Top is faintly laughable. In fact it's far funnier than anything seen in Mad Frankie's Tramadol Nights, for a kick-off. Keep up the good work, Mandy, we'll make a stand-up of you yet.

A major new cycle of Shakespeare's historical works will be brought to BBC Two in 2012 as part of a season based on his life and works. Involving some of the most pre-eminent Shakespearean actors and directors, the films will consist of bold adaptations of Richard II, Henry IV Parts I and II and Henry V, filmed on locations around the UK and Europe. Filming on Richard II, the first of the four films, will commence next month in Wales. Locations include St David's Cathedral and Pembroke Castle, both being used for the first time as filming locations for a production of this scale. Production designer will be Andrew McAlpine, with Danny Cohen as Director of Photography and Odile Dicks Mireaux as Costume Designer. Ben Stephenson, the controller of BBC Drama, says, 'A fitting ensemble of some of this country's finest acting talent have assembled for Richard II. Shooting entirely on location, the director Rupert Goold brings a scale never before attempted on TV to the work by using St David's Cathedral and Pembroke Castle in Wales to give audiences something entirely unique.' Ben Whishaw will play the title role with Rory Kinnear as his challenger, Bolingbroke. John of Gaunt will be played by Patrick Stewart, with David Suchet as The Duke of York and David Morrissey as The Duke of Northumberland. Tom Hughes will play Aumerle and Mowbray will be played by James Purefoy. Clemence Poésy is Queen Isabella and Lindsay Duncan will take the role of The Duchess of York. Other confirmed cast members include Lucian Msamati and David Bradley. Pippa Harris, Executive Producer for Neal Street Productions, said 'With the backing of the BBC and NBC Universal, this is a fantastic opportunity to bring Shakespeare to a worldwide TV audience, in a vivid and enthralling way. It's hugely exciting to be working with such an array of talent.' Co-produced by Neal Street Productions with NBC Universal and WNET, and commissioned by Ben Stephenson and Janice Hadlow, these four films will be linked to the Cultural Olympiad of 2012.

Simon Cowell's new ITV show Red or Black has failed in a bid to persuade National Lottery operator Camelot to come on board the one million pound game show. Red or Black, which will be fronted by Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, wey-aye, give-ower, is the first major UK show from Cowell's production company Syco since Britain's Got Talent four years ago. Cowell and ITV Studios, which is co-producing Red or Black, had been negotiating to involve Camelot in the show. The exact nature of the discussions – or the nature of the tie-up between the two parties – remains unclear. 'We're regularly approached by and undertake discussions with third parties about possible concepts and ideas for future National Lottery games,' said a spokesman for Camelot. 'These form part of our ongoing strategy to make the National Lottery even more exciting for players, ensuring we continue to grow sales and build on the twenty five billion pounds that our players have already raised for good causes. We were approached by Syco and worked with them and ITV on the Red or Black concept. However, after discussions, we didn't reach an agreement on the venture.' Broadcast live over the course of seven consecutive nights later this year on ITV, contestants will be able to win one million pounds on the spin of a wheel, but only if they can correctly guess a series of fifty-fifty challenges. Acutely aware of the restrictions on gambling in television programmes, Cowell preferred to say 'risk their luck' rather than gamble when describing how the show works. 'It's not gambling because people are not using their own cash,' he argued. A debatable point legally as well as ethically. Syco and ITV Studios are yet to finalise key elements of the co-production deal, including who will take the lead in the potentially lucrative, and prestigious, role of selling the format internationally if it becomes a hit. Cowell has said he hopes to take the format around the world and that he has already had interest from the US. While both Syco and ITV Productions maintain that the discussions are nothing out of the ordinary, it is understood that both sides are keen for the gross revenues of international deals to flow through their books. As joint partners both companies will ultimately benefit equally, however running the gross revenues through one balance sheet would benefit the top-line figures of whoever handles the sales – assuming the format is picked up internationally. ITV Studios, the maker of shows including Coronation Street and Come Dine With Me, reported revenues down twelve and a half per cent and earnings down eleven per cent in the year to the end of March. It has not created a global entertainment hit since Dancing on Ice in 2006. 'As with all of our programmes we will be seeking to deliver maximum value from the brand in collaboration with our production partners,' said a spokeswoman for ITV. 'We have a very strong commercial and creative relationship with Syco and we're in the process of conducting standard commercial discussions with them on Red or Black.' Syco, which co-produces Cowell's X Factor and Britain's Got Talent with FremantleMedia, is also thought to be keen to take on the international responsibilities. 'Syco are having the usual commercial discussions with ITV Studios, which of course involve looking at the complementary skill sets that both companies bring to the table,' said a Syco spokeswoman. FremantleMedia handles the international sales for X Factor and Britain's Got Talent.

The Only Way Is Essex's former story producer has criticised the 'snobbery' surrounding the show's BAFTA win. The ITV2 show won the viewers' choice category at the TV awards this month. Daran Little said the show followed on naturally from the likes of Big Brother and that its 'Scripted reality' format was 'here to stay.' He told the Radio Times: 'I was surprised by the snobbery surrounding the triumph of TOWIE. If fans want to show their appreciation by voting for it, what's the problem? Maybe it's because it seems that viewers want to wallow in the lives of "ordinary" people, to laugh at their stupidity and shout out their catchphrases. After all, isn't this the next evolution of Big Brother? To film fame-hungry but seemingly talentless young people in their natural environment rather than in one big house?' Little, who picked up a BAFTA for writing the drama The Road To Coronation Street, said: 'Maybe in fifty years' time it'll be just as hard to imagine life without structured reality shows.' Maybe. But, thankfully, I'll be long gone by the time that happens. Little left TOWIE after the first series but went on to story-produce E4 show Made In Chelsea, which follows socialites on and around London's King's Road. He said: 'For me, Chelsea is a different show to TOWIE. Last week a guy broke the news to his girlfriend that things weren't working out and he wanted to finish it. She had no idea it was coming and it was horribly real - and I couldn't drag my eyes away.'

And, speaking of 'fame-hungry but seemingly talentless young people' and crass pointless exercises in scripted reality, Geordie Shore cast member Charlotte-Letitia Crosby has confessed to attacking a taxi driver when drunk. The twenty-year-old slapper barmaid, who was arrested following the incident, claimed that she didn't know why she struck the victim. 'I got in a taxi, was sick in the car, said I needed to pee and then punched the driver in the face,' she told that icon of taste and style, New! magazine. 'I don't know why I punched him. I got locked in a cell for the night.' And, you're, what, proud of that, are you? Geordie Shore co-star Sophie Kasaei also revealed in the interview that she would happily kiss 'random people' on nights out for free drinks. 'I don't care if they're spotty, fat, ginger, whatever,' she said. This blogger is most of those chuck, and, believe me, I would care if you tried it on with me. Local MP Chi Onwurah criticised the MTV reality show at the weekend, claiming that it was giving Newcastle a bad reputation and described the programme as 'bordering on pornographic.' Which, as this blog noted yesterday, it isn't or anything even remotely like it, it's just bad. And, saying that it is gives it a notoriety that it doesn't deserve.

Former Conservative peer Lord Taylor of Warwick has been jailed for twelve months for falsely claiming over eleven thousand pounds in parliamentary expenses. And, as I write this, he will presumably be in the process of 'slopping out.' He claimed travel costs between his Oxford home and Westminster, as well as subsistence for staying in London. The fifty eight-year-old said he had made the false claims 'in lieu of a salary,' and had been acting on colleagues' advice. As though that made everything all right. Jailing him, judge Mr Justice Saunders said the expenses scandal had 'left an indelible stain on Parliament.' Taylor, who was Britain's first black Conservative peer and a former barrister and radio and TV presenter, listed his main residence as a home in Oxford, which was owned by his nephew, while he actually lived in a flat in London. He pleaded not guilty to the charges - saying had been told by senior peers it was 'normal practice' to make false expenses claims - but was convicted in January. His legal team argued that he should not face prison because, as a peer, his crimes were less serious than those of MPs found guilty over their expenses. They said a custodial term would 'destroy him,' adding that: 'Every fibre of Taylor is motivated by public service.' But Mr Justice Saunders said that Taylor had lied to journalists investigating his expenses and lied while giving evidence to the jury during his trial. 'The expenses scheme in the House of Lords was based on trust,' he said. 'Peers certified that their claims were accurate. They were not required to provide proof. It was considered that people who achieved a peerage could be relied on to be honest. Making false claims involved a breach of a high degree of trust.' Taylor is the latest in a series of politicians to be jailed for expenses fraud. Former Labour MP Jim Devine was given a sixteen-month term after also pleading not guilty. His fellow former Labour members Eric Illsley, David Chaytor and Elliot Morley all pleaded guilty and were jailed for twelve, eighteen and sixteen months respectively. Lord Hanningfield, another former Conservative peer, was convicted last week and is awaiting sentence.

WBC world super-middleweight champion Carl Froch has warned fellow boxer Amir Khan that he could be in danger of slipping 'under the radar' unless he ends his bitter feud with Sky. Froch, who only recently agreed a deal with the satellite broadcaster after years of fighting on other channels, suggested that his lack of exposure significantly hindered his career. The thirty three-year-old's world title defence against Glen Johnson in Atlantic City will be shown by Sky this Saturday, and he warned Khan about losing valuable TV coverage. Froch told the Sun: 'Why would anyone leave Sky and go to another? But Khan has been taking advice and did exactly that for his last fight. Has Khan taken the right advice? His team obviously think they are doing the right things but Amir is in danger of disappearing from general public view. If he doesn't fight on Sky he will slip under the radar.' Froch added: 'I know because it has already happened to me. I didn't get the right TV exposure after I became world champion. My subsequent defences were not on mainstream TV either and that is why I am not a household name - but that is about to change. I've been trying to get back on Sky for a long time now and things are looking good as they will show my next fight against Johnson.' In April Sky refused to broadcast Khan's WBA title defence at Manchester's MEN Arena against Paul McCloskey following a dispute over pay-per-view fees. New boxing broadcaster Primetime TV agreed to air the fight and is keen to continue the relationship with Khan's management company. Sky executives are thought to be prepared to bid for TV rights to Khan's fights in future, but they will not be held to ransom.

Sponsors associated with FIFA have expressed concern at the damage allegations of corruption are causing world football's governing body. Coca-Cola and Adidas have voiced worries over the controversy, despite FIFA president Sepp Blatter stating that the organisation is not in crisis. But a Coca-Cola spokesperson said: 'The current allegations being raised are distressing and bad for the sport.' Fellow sponsors Visa and Emirates are keeping a distance from the row. Blatter is expected to be re-elected to his post unopposed after his only rival candidate in Mohamed Bin Hammam, president of the Asian Football Confederation, withdrew from the race to govern FIFA. In the lead-up to the 1 June vote, which there have been calls to postpone, Bin Hammam has been provisionally suspended by FIFA's ethics committee over allegations that financial incentives were offered to Caribbean Football Union members. Concacaf president the odious Jack Warner, whose FIFA association governs the region of North, Central American and Caribbean football, has also been provisionally suspended. And, in a progression of claim and counter-claim, Bin Hammam has appealed his ban, while Warner has revealed an e-mail sent to him from FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke suggesting Bin Hammam had 'bought' the 2022 World Cup final for Qatar. Although Valcke has moved to clarify his remarks in the e-mail, the developments will have fuelled bribery claims over the bidding process to host 2022 World Cup tournament, which will be held in Qatar. They beat Australia, Japan, South Korea and the United States to host the tournament and its bid team has denied any wrongdoing. 'We have every expectation that FIFA will resolve this situation in an expedient and thorough manner,' added the Coca-Cola spokesperson. An Adidas spokesman said: 'Adidas enjoys a long-term, close and successful partnership with FIFA that we are looking forward to continuing. Adidas will be an official sponsor of World Cup 2014 in Brazil. Having said that, the negative tenor of the public debate around FIFA at the moment is neither good for football nor for Fifa and its partners.' The Football Association and the Scottish Football Association have called for FIFA to postpone its presidential election. Although, the chances of that actually happening about about the same as those of Hartlepool winning the FA Cup next year. Blatter is vying to be re-elected for a fourth term and, despite insisting FIFA was 'not in crisis,' the FA's latest move comes amid world football's governing body being undermined by a series of corruption allegations. Meanwhile, anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International backed calls for an independent body to delve into the goings on within FIFA. 'Free and fair elections cannot take place when there is a suspicion that voters may have been swayed,' Sylvia Schenk, senior advisor on sport to TI, said in a statement. 'FIFA delegates know that they must clean house if their vote is to have legitimacy.'

Yer actual latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day, dear blog reader, is a little under-appreciated classic from Momus.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Some Say That Knowledge Is Something That You Never Have

It was lovely to hear Stephen Fry on The Danny Baker Show on Radio 5Live over the weekend, dear blog reader. Two of the nation's genuine broadcasting treasures on one show. 'Few people I'd more happy get up early on a Saturday for,' Stephen told his Twitter followers. Their discussion took in Stephen's recent interview with Lady GaGa for the Financial Times, the only time Stephen ever got nervous whilst being interviewed on the radio, his fannish devotion to Peter Cook and Viv Stanshall, the movie Cromwell, Aaron Sorkin's love of The Lion in Winter, the dialogue in A Man For All Seasons, ghosts, horror film clichés, secret fears, Stephen's spell in prison and his 'lucky four-leaf clover', Shakespeare, Danny's recent cancer scare, ageing and mortality, Stephen's back problems, Qi, Poland, audio books, Dennis Potter, watching football and - obviously - Norwich and Millwall, the Royal Wedding, snooker, Sepp Blatter, the Internet and the law, freedom of information versus privacy, the 'Twitter joke trial', The Hobbit, the forthcoming movie version of The Borrowers, Martin Freeman, Benedict Cumberbatch and Sherlock, potential Qi Live shows in Australia, BBC4's The Joy Of Easy Listening and Hugh Laurie. It ended with Danny getting Stephen, an infamous 'non-singer' - for the second time - to 'sing' live on BBC radio (this time a couple of lines from Lee Marvin's 'Wanderin' Star'!)

The new Suranne Jones and Lesley Sharp ITV crime drama, Scott & Bailey launched last night with a quietly impressive episode and an even more impressive average audience of 8.2 million (including those watching timeshifted on ITV+1). I believe that's the biggest overnight launch audience for a new drama on British telly since Doctor Who hit 9.9m in 2005 (although technically, of course, Doctor Who wasn't 'new' per se). Whitechapel's 8.1m opening episode in January 2009 comes the closest from more recent times.
On another blazing-hot Saturday, Manchester United's 3-1 defeat to Barcelona scored a peak audience of over eleven million viewers according overnight figures. The Champions League final at Wembley delivered an average of 7.85m to ITV between 7pm and 10.25pm, peaking with 11.1m at 9pm, which matched the Wednesday night game two years ago when Barça won 2-0. Coverage on Sky Sports 1, broadcast between 6pm and 10.30pm, averaged 1.34m, also peaking at 9pm but with a more modest 2.25m - enough for Sky Sports to usurp Channel Five to fifth place in the prime time league tables with a 6.2 per cent share. Elsewhere, a combination of the weather and the football meant it was a relatively poor night for BBC1. Doctor Who lost seven hundred thousand week-on-week for The Almost People, which was watched by 5.05m from 6.45pm. Except the timeshifts on that to take it up to somewhere around seven million or maybe even a touch higher. Nevertheless, despite recording its lowest audience of the series so far Doctor Who was still, comfortably, the BBC's highest-rated show of the night. Sandwiched between the popular family SF drama, the very unpopular So You Think You Can Dance could only muster 2.59m from the early time of 5.45pm, embarrassingly beaten by Animals Do The Funniest Things with 2.7m on ITV. Appointment at the Job Centre for Ms Phillips and Mrs Redknapp, I believe. At 7.30pm, a mere 2.42m tuned in for the dance series' results show. Time somebody in light entertainment cleared out their desks, I'd suggest. For the second time in its run, the risible Don't Scare The Hare slipped below the one million mark, fetching a pitiful nine hundred and fifty nine thousand viewers, while Casualty drew was the second most watched BBC show of the day - and third most watched overall - with just 3.84m for an episode titled When The Bough Breaks which probably gives you an idea, dear blog reader, of just what a desperately poor night it was all round - football and Time Lords notwithstanding.

The BBC1 drama Sherlock swept the board at the BAFTA-Cymru awards, winning five categories. Sherlock, the modern-day retelling of Sherlock Holmes commissioned by BBC Cymru Wales, won best television drama and best director for Euros Lyn. The best actor award went to Stuart Brennan for his role as the Welsh boxer Howard Winstone. Meanwhile, BBC Wales's Week In Week Out won an award for its programme University Challenged. The Twentieth annual awards was held Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff on Sunday. BBC Cymru Wales won fifteen awards, while independent production company Rondo Media won in four categories, closely followed by Fiction Factory with three awards. Programmes on the Welsh language channel S4C claimed prizes in eight categories. But it was Sherlock's night. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, it won awards for best television drama, best director (fiction), production design, hair and make-up and photography (fiction). It follows success at the BAFTA TV Awards in London last week, when Sherlock won two prizes. The best actor award went to Stuart Brennan for his role in Risen: The Howard Winstone Story. Winstone, from Merthyr Tydfil, died in 2000. Brennan said: 'Howard Winstone was an incredible man. Taking on this project was a huge undertaking for us.' He added that it involved 'incredible people, a fantastic cast' and 'an incredible crew.' He also thanked the Winstone family. Television producer Gareth Gwenlan, who worked on the BBC comedies Only Fools and Horses, The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin and To the Manor Born, received a lifetime achievement award for his contribution to the British and Welsh television industry. The Hollywood actor Matthew Rhys, was also honoured with The Sian Phillips Award, while BBC Wales' Snowdonia 1890 was given the Gwyn Alf Williams Award. Mali Harries won best actress for her role in The Indian Doctor, which was made by Rondo for the BBC, and set in a Welsh mining village in 1963. Angharad Mair, of Welsh language magazine programme Wedi 7 on S4C, was awarded best presenter, while comedian Rhod Gilbert's Work Experience for BBC Wales won best factual series. The Children's Programme award went to The Sarah Jane Adventures and its producer Brian Minchin for last year's Death of the Doctor. Meanwhile, Doctor Who won two of its categories: Tim Rickett received the Sound award for his work on A Christmas Carol, whilst Mark Hutchingson won the Lighting award for The Eleventh Hour.

Things move quickly in Cheryl Cole's world, it would seem: no sooner had she been unceremoniously fired from the American version of The X Factor last week than she had flown back to Britain, checked into a Berkshire hotel and begun pondering her next career move. In America, however, the television pundits were still wrestling with the reasons for the Geordie singer's 'failure to launch.' How, in a royal wedding year when the United States was supposed to have been swooning over all things English, was one of the old country's alleged superstars deemed not good enough for prime time? Because for many observers, Cole – who made her first bouffant-haired appearance as a judge on the US show before the paparazzi just three weeks ago – was simply not up to scratch. And it was not, they said, just because of her North- East accent, which some claimed to be impossible for many viewers to understand. 'With enough production magic, you can go the Lily Allen route and "Geordie" your way to indie-supremacy,' wrote Village Voice columnist Rohin Guha. Two theatre productions featuring accents similar to Cole's – Billy Elliot the Musical and Lee Hall's play, The Pitmen Painters – have recently done extremely well on Broadway and proved that pronunciation is not necessarily a barrier to success. Guha compared Cole's quick flop to Eliza Doolittle failing her 'rain in Spain moment' in a way that he said could prove terminal for her career in America. 'She took herself too seriously from the start,' he added. 'By forgoing the kitsch of her Girls Aloud days, she walked away from one of the few roads female British pop acts have into the American industry.' Other commentators refused to rule out foul play. The news of Cole's dismissal from American X Factor leaked just as a rival talent show and music impresario Simon Cowell's previous brainchild, American Idol, was approaching its finale and ratings peak. 'It was extraordinary timing that the story of Cheryl Cole being fired blew up just as the American Idol season was peaking with the finale – though if anything Idol ratings were higher than expected,' said Kelly Lynch, an editor at Hollywood-based television and celebrity news website Socialite Life. She added that the firing of Cole reflected badly on the Rupert Murdoch-owned television channel FOX, and left Cowell looking foolish. 'Simon Cowell is a wiseass and is putting all his effort into leaving American Idol in the dust. The X Factor is going to be a monster, so I'm surprised by this messy episode,' she said. 'He was drumming up publicity for her [Cole] for the last six months and I thought it would work, that he was bringing us a little bit of his Britain – especially as we're all anglophiles this summer after the royal wedding. So to have Cole fired so abruptly I think has got to have been a business decision by FOX executives,' said Lynch. Others cautioned that it was possible that there was no skulduggery, and that FOX had intended to announce Cole's firing last Thursday, after the Idol finale. Instead, the news was leaked to popular gossip website TMZ the day before. Ratings for American Idol have dropped in the last few years, but the show remains the highest-rated TV series in the United States, and it has held that title since 2004-05. The online betting site Bookmaker has now given Idol a ninety per cent chance of being the top-rated show next season in America, while The X Factor has only been given a 28.6 per cent in what will be its debut season. Cole's place on the judging panel of the US X Factor is now expected to be taken by former Pussycat Dolls singer Nicole Scherzinger. Cole, meanwhile, has reportedly already entered the next stage of her career, becoming a glamorous pawn in a ratings war between BBC1 and ITV. This weekend the twenty seven-year-old Heaton Horror was reportedly choosing between high-profile roles on Saturday night television shows for BBC1 or ITV1 although probably for a reduced fee. Insiders at her record company, Universal, have indicated they would prefer her to consider working on a new talent show in development for the BBC rather than returning to her judge's chair on the British version of The X Factor. The new show, called The Voice, is already a success in the US and has business connections with Universal, where UK boss David Joseph, who also runs the Brit Awards, is said to be hoping to steer her away from ITV and from Cowell. An employee of the record company reportedly confirmed yesterday that, 'Universal are heavily involved in recruiting judges for The Voice when it moves to the BBC and they are urging Cheryl to be the big star of that show,' adding that the move would be 'a great way of sticking two fingers up at Simon Cowell.' Which, let's face it, is never a bad thing. On The Voice, the panel hears the auditions 'blind' and rates the talent purely on their singing voices, a marked contrast to the 'nice face shame about the voice' early rounds of X Factor. Cole was reportedly put under pressure to lose weight ahead of her appearance on The X Factor USA. Producers wanted the singer to lose as much as two stone ahead of the show's auditions process, according to an article in the Daily Scum Mail. Cole was reportedly fired from The X Factor USA for having 'a negative attitude.' The singer is said to have 'angered' network 'bosses' for refusing to adapt to her new life and promote herself in America. A FOX 'production executive' - so, that'll be the tea-boy - allegedly told the Mirra: 'Instead of attending the Grammy Awards and the Coachella music festival, putting herself out there in America, she sat in her hotel room eating ­digestive biscuits.' And what, exactly, is wrong with digestive biscuits, you snob? Meanwhile, a 'friend' allegedly added: 'She just seemed very down. There was too much negativity around her. It's as if she still regrets getting divorced from Ashley Cole, when clearly she was still in love with him. She just didn't help herself. She was ­offered elocution ­lessons and said, "No." She was offered a stylist and said, "No." And then she came out on the first day ­wearing that hideous outfit. And the reaction from FOX was like, "What the fuck is she ­wearing?"' Meanwhile, another 'insider' commented that Cole failed to appear 'excited' about her new role during auditions for the show. They said: 'Cheryl seemed uncomfortable as if she didn't like judging the acts. And at the end of the day that isn't what the TV execs wanted.' The paper also claims that Cole's fellow judge, Paula Abdul, was so concerned by the Girls Aloud singer's behaviour that she suggested using 'crystal healing' to improve her mood. Personally, I'd've suggested using a dose of colonic irrigation, myself. Cole has also reportedly failed to win back her spot on the UK X Factor panel, with N-Dubz's  Tulisa Contostavlos touted as her replacement. As reported yesterday, Cole claims, allegedly, that Simon Cowell 'pushed her' into the role and that she trusted his advice. Which has to be the first time yer actual Keith Telly Topping has ever heard of a lass from Heaton getting pushed into pretty much anything. Cole is quoted by the - ever-reliable - News of the World as saying: 'After what happened in my marriage I made it quite clear I found it impossible to trust another man. But I did trust Simon.' Ah, well, there was your mistake, lassie. 'I let myself believe he had my best interests at heart. Now he's done this to me.' I know. The rotter. The bloomin' scallywag, so he is. 'I never actually wanted to do the American show, I'm not a TV star.' Indeed. And, now you've got your wish not to do one. So, what's the problem, exactly? 'I had so many reservations. But he pushed me into doing it. He told me I'd be a star over there. And then he didn't even give me a chance to prove myself. I was gone after four days. I've been used. It's cruel.' My heart bleeds for you, so it does. Although quite how any of this squares with about six months worth of whinging tabloid stories about the 'stress' of not knowing if you'd got the job or not, I fail to understand. 'I have no idea what I'm going to do now.' Errr... how about working for a living? Bit of a radical suggestion, I know. Maybe you could team up with another Cowell cast-off, your old mate Joe McElderry? I'm sure Morrison's in South Shields has some vacancies. 'My life has been turned upside down,' she allegedly wailed. 'X Factor isn't my world. It's not the be-all or end-all of my career, and I have no desire to keep trying to break America.' Which you haven't doe so, again, one has to ask, what's the problem? 'I actually like the fact I'm not that well-known over there and I can live more of a normal life when I'm there.'

Geordie Shore has reportedly provoked a 'fierce reaction' from - some - Newcastle residents for its unfavourable portrayal of the city. The MTV reality show, which follows a (small) selection of booze-obsessed and promiscuous Tyneside natives (a rough-as-a-sore-arse collection of reet radjis, gangstas, charvas and mingers, like), has been described as 'bordering on pornographic' by local MP Chi Onwurah. It's actually not that or anything even remotely like it. It's just bad. In places embarrassingly bad. But, using a ludicrous description like 'bordering on pornographic' gives it a scandalous reputation it does not deserve and probably guarantees a few more glakes will tune in to the next episode hoping to see a flash on full-frontal. MTV must think you're Santa Claus and The Tooth Fairy all rolled into one, Ms Onwurah. And I'm someone who voted for you. 'It's exploiting those young people and exploiting our city. I'm going to be raising questions in Parliament because I think there should be a limit on how much alcohol a broadcaster can pour down the throats of young people to provoke sensational acts,' she told the Evening Chronicle. 'By putting those young people in this situation, it's encouraging them to lose all their dignity. I think it's totally unrepresentative of Newcastle.' The Jersey Shore spin-off has also been condemned as inaccurate and irresponsible by the local tourism board, the BBC reports. Sarah Stewart, chief executive of tourist agency NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: 'The fierce reaction to the programme demonstrates that people who live here feel very strongly about NewcastleGateshead and how it's being portrayed. Hopefully as the series continues there will be a more accurate representation of the area. It would be disappointing to see outdated stereotypes pervade.' Yes. And Andy Capp is still being published as well, kidda, what's your point? Geordie Shore became MTV UK's highest-rated programme for three years after debuting to three hundred and twenty thousand viewers on Tuesday. Ofcom confirmed this week that it has so far received twenty complaints about the show's content.

Adam Parsons is back on the BBC News channel today presenting alongside Martine Croxall. Parsons left the BBC in 2009 to become director of communications and public affairs for The British Olympic Association. In June 2010 Adam joined the Hotel chain Travelodge as director of communications. Prior to joining the BOA, Adam was working as BBC sports correspondent and as a relief presenter on the news channel.
Former EastEnders actor Paul Nicholls and Cold Feet and Coronation Street regular John Thomson are reportedly to join the cast of Waterloo Road. The two actors have reportedly been cast in the BBC` drama for its next series. Paul Nicholls will join the drama as a new teacher at the school while Thomson will play a parent. Jaye Jacobs, who recently bowed out of Holby City, will also join the cast according to reports - she will also play a new teacher. Nicholls is still remembered for his role of Joe Wicks in EastEnders between 1996 and 1997. After leaving the soap he appeared in the first series of short-lived cop-drama City Central and his other notable roles include Clapham Junction, The Canterbury Tales, Harley Street and A Thing Called Love. The gifted comedian Thomson - creator of Bernard Rite-On among many other characters and a national treasure for his 'Nice!' performances on The Fast Show, played Pete Gifford in Cold Feet but more recently had a stint in Coronation Street as Jesse Chadwick. The current series of Waterloo Road has been moved to a slightly earlier time slot of 7.30 on BBC1 which has boosted the drama's ratings to an average of above five million viewers per episode. It was recently announced that actress Amanda Burton, who plays Head Teacher Karen Fisher, was quitting the drama.

Forget about The Cube, which beat The X Factor to the best entertainment programme, by far the most surprising award of the night at this year's BAFTAs was the comedy programme prize which went to BBC2 sketch show Harry and Paul. This is the show, you may remember, which started life on BBC1 as Ruddy Hell! It's Harry and Paul before being moved to BBC2 due to low ratings – typically shows tend to migrate the other way – and was not entirely warmly welcomed by critics. The win – it beat a Catherine Tate Sky Christmas special and Matt Lucas and David Walliams's Little Britain follow-up, Come Fly With Me – also seems to have come as something of a surprise to the programme's two stars, Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse, who were 'otherwise engaged' and unable to make the ceremony. And to the BBC2 controller Janice Hadlow, who has not yet commissioned another series of the, now BAFTA-winning, show. 'It's early days,' a BBC 'insider' allegedly told the Gruniad. 'Should know more in the next couple of weeks hopefully.'

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall was rightly proud that Hugh's Fish Fight, his campaigning Channel Four series about sustainable fishing, won the BAFTA 'features' prize. He thought he would use his acceptance speech – and the rare opportunity of a prime time spot on BBC1 – to drum up a little extra support for his campaign. 'I have to ask myself what's more important – the BBC's compliance guidelines and rules or getting some more votes in for our campaign,' he told the audience. The answer would've been obvious to even the most glakish on brain-damaged morons: the BBC's compliance guidelines. His subsequent speech was all but entirely cut in the awards' broadcast which began on BBC1 an hour later.

The Australian actress Cate Blanchett has been criticised for appearing in a television advertisement calling for the introduction of a carbon tax. One leading opposition politician said the Oscar-winning actress did not understand the cost-of-living concerns of ordinary Australians. Senator Barnaby Joyce said that Blanchett should stick to acting, but the government and the Greens have rallied behind her. It has been dubbed 'the Cate debate,' and centres on the actress's support for the government's controversial new carbon tax, which is bitterly opposed by the conservative opposition. Blanchett features briefly in a new television campaign urging Australians to 'Say Yes' to a tax on carbon. Opponents of the carbon tax say it will increase the cost of living for ordinary Australians. Joyce, of the National Party, said the multi-millionaire had 'no idea' what it was like for working families struggling with rising costs. Though the idea that some scummy right-wing politician has either is faintly laughable in and of itself. One right-wing tabloid called her 'a morally vain Hollywood star' trying to justify her great good fortune 'by preaching to the rest of Australia about climate change.' Blanchett has been the driving force behind what has been called the 'greening' of the Sydney Theatre Company, where she is an artistic director. Her mansion in Sydney is fitted with solar panels. The attacks on Blanchett also reveal an instinctive suspicion of people in Australia perceived to be part of a cultural or educational elite - especially by the populist right. The movie star, who has been backed by the government and the Australian Green Party, has not responded publicly to the criticism.

Six journalists who worked for the Scum Mail on Sunday and its sister title the Daily Scum Mail - that's if you can call people who work for those particular organs of the media 'journalists' instead of, you know, the lice of the earth - are set to be shown evidence by Scotland Yard which suggests their voicemail messages were intercepted by Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who worked for the News of the World. Scum rooting around in filth and snooping on scum. Now you know how everybody else feels chaps. Poetic justice, some might call it. The fact that journalists from rival titles, several of whom are still employed by the Scum Mail titles' owner Associated Newspapers, are being warned by the Met they were being targeted by Mulcaire signals that Operation Weeting, the Met's phone hacking investigation which began in January, is about to enter a dramatic phase. It follows news that Dennis Rice, a Fleet Street veteran who works for the Scum Mail on Sunday as a freelance, is suing the News of the Screws's owner News Group for alleged breach of privacy, joining public figures who have already launched civil actions action against the title at the high court. The four remaining Scum Mail on Sunday journalists, along with a Daily Scum Mail reporter, are expected to be contacted by the Met at some point. The Gruniad Morning Star says that it understands several of the men may follow Rice's example by bringing their own legal proceedings against News Group. The latest development could threaten what the Gruniad describes as 'the uneasy Fleet Street alliance between tabloid titles,' which have been slow to report revelations about the true extent of phone hacking because they fear it will damage public perception of their trade. Rival titles are also reluctant to cover the story because the majority have also used private investigators in the past. A 2007 report by the information commissioner titled, What Price Privacy?, found that the Daily Scum Mail commissioned another private investigator, Steve Whittamore, on more occasions than any other newspaper. The same report found that thirty one titles used Whittamore, including the Gruniad's sister title the Observer, which is also published by Guardian Media Group. Rice, who was investigations editor at the Scum Mail on Sunday in 2005 and 2006, when Mulcaire was at his most active, is thought to have been 'shocked' and 'stunned' by the evidence which he was shown by the Met prior to launching his action. It is believed to include recordings Mulcaire made of messages left on Rice's mobile phone, including several from friends and families. News Group has conceded that Mulcaire was acting on the instructions of News of the World journalists in some cases but it is - still - contesting other claims. It is understood that detectives warned the Scum Mail on Sunday's owner Associated Newspapers in 2006 to improve its security systems. The fact that a group of journalists at the Scum Mail titles are apparently intent on discovering whether they were hacked by Mulcaire makes it more likely that the tactics employed by sections of Fleet Street in their search for stories will be exposed. Journalists frequently attempted to land exclusives by using underhand methods, including trying to access news lists held by competitors. But it now appears that some of them may have been habitually hacking into one another's voicemail message in the hope of obtaining stories, leads and contacts. The original police inquiry, which led to Mulcaire being jailed in 2007, also discovered evidence that he has successfully intercepted voicemail messages belonging to Rebekah Brooks, who was editor of the Sun when Mulcaire was working exclusively for its Sunday stablemate. The current investigation is believed to have found evidence that another former Sun editor, the loathsome Kelvin Mackenzie, also had his phone hacked. A spokesman for the Scum Mail on Sunday said: 'A number of Associated Newspapers journalists have been advised that their voicemails may have been hacked some years ago. One has so far been seen by the police. None of the others are planning legal action.'

FIFA has provisionally suspended executive committee members Mohamed Bin Hammam and the odious Jack Warner after a meeting of its ethics committee on Sunday. Football's governing body will now open a full investigation into allegations that financial incentives were offered to members of the Caribbean Football Union. CFU officials Debbie Minguell and Jason Sylvester have also been suspended. But FIFA president and slimy turd Sepp Blatter was found to have no case to answer. Which is, of course, a surprise because one would have thought he'd at least have the case of being a slimy turd to answer. Petrus Damaseb, deputy chairman of the ethics committee, said of Bin Hammam and Warner: 'We are satisfied that there is a case to be answered.' However, FIFA insists that they are both innocent until proven guilty. If found guilty, they could be expelled from the organisation and banned from all football activity. Bin Hammam was the only candidate due to oppose Blatter in the forthcoming election for the FIFA presidency - which will go ahead as planned on Wednesday - but he withdrew in the early hours of Sunday morning. The Qatari and his colleague, vice-president Warner, were forced to answer charges of bribery over allegations from executive committee member Chuck Blazer in Zurich on Sunday. It was alleged that they offered bribes at a meeting of the CFU on 10 and 11 May. A file of evidence claimed bundles of cash of up to forty thousand dollars were handed over to members of the CFU at the meeting in Trinidad. The payments were allegedly made to secure votes for Bin Hammam in his campaign to challenge Blatter for the presidency. In turn, Bin Hammam effectively claimed that Blatter was aware of some wrongdoing but did not report it, in itself a breach of FIFA's ethics code. Meanwhile, executive committee members Ricardo Teixeira and Worawi Makudi have been formally cleared by the Football Association of any wrongdoing following allegations of bribery made by former FA chairman Lord Triesman in relation to England's failed 2018 World Cup bid. Warner has made public an e-mail which claims that Mohamed Bin Hammam 'bought' the 2022 World Cup finals for Qatar. FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke admitted he sent the e-mail, which also questioned why Asian football boss Bin Hammam was running for FIFA president. Valcke wrote: '[Hammam] thought you can buy FIFA as they bought the World Cup.' However, Bin Hammam responded by telling BBC Sport on Monday: 'I don't know why he [Valcke] has said that.' Possibly because he believed it to be true? Just, you know, a wild stab in the dark there. The Qatari added: 'If I was paying money for Qatar you also have to ask the thirteen people who voted for Qatar.' To which the obvious reply is 'oh, I'm sure they will now.' Asked whether Valcke's allegation was true he said: 'What do you think?' Valcke stressed that his e-mail to Warner was intended to remain 'private' and pointed out that Warner had only published selected parts of it. 'He [Warner] sent me an e-mail asking if I want that [Bin Hammam to run for FIFA president], he said that I should ask Bin Hammam to pull out,' Valcke added. Valcke also denied that he had influenced FIFA's ethics committee, which suspended Warner and Bin Hammam on Sunday over separate allegations of bribery, pending further investigation. He stated: 'The first time I met the chairman of the ethics committee was yesterday at 1700 before we went to the press conference. I had no contact at all with anyone.' Bin Hammam was suspended a matter of hours after withdrawing from the FIFA presidential race on Sunday morning. His decision leaves seventy five-year-old incumbent Blatter, who is seeking a fourth term in charge of the organisation he has run unopposed since 1998, as the only man running for the office. FIFA has said its election will go ahead, as scheduled, on Wednesday. The thoroughly odious Warner, who is president of the North, Central American and Caribbean confederation, has reacted angrily to the allegations of bribery and the FIFA ethics committee's decision to suspend him. The Trinidad and Tobago government minister raged: 'I look on the suspension as the worst form of justice by any sporting organisation. They came premeditated, they weren't prepared to listen, they were hand-picked to do a task and they did just that. The guys were hand-picked by Blatter. A kangaroo court would be a decent thing to say.' Warner, who also turned on Valcke, stated: 'I wrote to Valcke telling him, among other things, that the outcome of the elections may cause some fracture in the Arab world which we can ill afford now and that I will like to ask Bin Hammam to withdraw from the race. To which Jerome replied to me and I quote: "For [Bin Hammam] I never understood why he was running. If really he thought he had a chance or just being an extreme way to express how much he does not like anymore [Blatter]. Or he thought you can buy FIFA as they [Qatar] bought the [World Cup]."' Warner showed the e-mail to television crews and added: 'You don't have to believe me, you don't have to like me, nobody has to eat with me, drink with me or sleep with me but Jesus Christ, take the truth when you see it.' Warner has also accused Blatter of making a gift of computers and an unauthorised one million dollars to Concacaf officials. 'I indicated that at the Miami Concacaf Congress on 3 May Mr Blatter made a gift of one million dollars to Concacaf to spend as it deems fit,' Warner said in a statement. 'This annoyed [UEFA] president Michel Platini who was present and he approached secretary general Jerome Valcke complaining that Mr Blatter had no permission from the finance committee to make this gift to which Jerome replied that he will find the money for Mr Blatter. I also indicated FIFA, through Mr Blatter, organised gifts of laptops and projectors to all members of the Caribbean and no objections have been made today of this to date.' However, Platini said on Monday that he was 'having a joke' with Swiss Blatter. The Frenchman said: '[Blatter] can give [to] the projects that he wants to give. I joke, I said "but Sepp, this was not accepted by the committee" - but he can give many projects to many national associations and we will confirm in the GOAL project after. In many Congresses for many, many years the president can give one or two projects to national associations - he has his own budget and he can give to one confederation and then it has to be approved of course by the executive committee next time.' Blatter has denied any wrong-doing as have Warner and Hammam, who are accused of offering financial incentives to members of the Caribbean Football Union. In a file of evidence it was claimed bundles of cash were handed over to members of the CFU. The payments were allegedly made to secure votes for Bin Hammam in his campaign to challenge Blatter for the presidency. Last week, Qatar 2022 World Cup officials denied allegations, published in the Sunday Times, that they paid bribes in return for votes. Meanwhile, independent Australian senator Nick Xenophon has demanded that FIFA refunds the Aus$45.6m they spent on their unsuccessful bid to host the 2022 World Cup. Xenophon said: 'It appears corrupt and highly questionable behaviour goes to the core of FIFA. Australia spent almost forty six million dollars on a bid we were never in the running for. Now we hear that bribes may have been made to fix the result for who will head up FIFA.' According to Reuters, China's Zhang Jilong will take charge of the Asian Football Confederation in the absence of Hammam. In a press conference on Monday, Blatter said that the organisation is 'not in crisis,' merely 'in some difficulties.' Which is a bit like says Barcelona are merely a decent footballing side.

Chris Tremlett, Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad bowled England to a remarkable innings victory after Sri Lanka were bowled out for eighty two in the first Test in Cardiff. A draw seemed likely after the rain - which had threatened to ruin the match with regular stoppages - had, for the fourth day in a row delayed the start of day five until three o'clock. But England declared after two overs on 496-5, a first-innings lead of 96, as soon as Ian Bell reached his thirteenth test century. Tremlett (four for forty) grabbed two early wickets, before he and Swann (a remarkable four for sixteen) combined to tear through the tourists, with Stuart Broad finishing them off with the final two wickets. With the last eight wickets falling in just over an hour after the tea interval, it left England victorious by an innings and fourteen runs. It was an amazing end to a day's play that had begun with few supporters in the stands after a miserable few hours of persistent drizzle and even fewer expectations that the game would end in anything but a draw. For the fourth day out of five, no play was possible during the morning as rain ensured the covers remained in place until four hours after the scheduled start time, a delay that appeared to have killed the game as a contest. When the players did take to the pitch it was initially for only twelve balls - long enough for Bell to add five runs to his overnight score of ninety eight and reach his century - before England's declaration brought them off again. Because of the time eaten up by the weather, and with England's four-man bowling attack a man light following Jimmy Anderson's side strain, the remaining fifty overs were expected to encapsulate a period of tame cricket during which England would give their fit bowlers practice time in the middle. However, this does an injustice to the competitive nature and belief of an England side, who immediately seized the initiative in Sri Lanka's second innings and then steadily turned the screw on their increasingly demoralised and disorganised opponents. The home side got off to a superb start thanks chiefly to towering seam bowler Tremlett, who claimed two quick wickets to stir England's interest. In the second over he drew Tharanga Paranavitana into a wayward shot outside off and had him caught low at first slip by Strauss for a duck. In his next over, captain Tillakaratne Dilshan made a mess of a rising delivery and lobbed a catch back to the big bowler, with a review showing the ball had clipped his glove on its way through, leaving Sri Lanka ten for two. After tea, home hope rapidly grew to genuine expectation as Tremlett and Swann tore into the tourists. Tremlett claimed his third scalp from a superb, short of a length delivery that cut away from Mahela Jayawardene and caught the outside edge of the bat before nestling into the welcoming hands of Strauss at slip. Then Swann got in on the act when Thilan Samaraweera played back and chopped onto his stumps to depart for another duck. Panic had now set in for the tourists, whose middle order capitulated under the England onslaught. In one Swann over, key man Kumar Sangakkara edged to Strauss at slip to depart for fourteen and three balls later Farveez Maharoof needed a review to prove that he had indeed nicked one to keeper Matt Prior, to leave Sri Lanka forty three for six. It was forty three for seven after the first ball of Tremlett's next over as England utilised the review system perfectly to overturn Billy Doctrove's initial summary that Prasanne Jayawardene had not gloved an attempted hook to Prior, to see the batsman off for just three. Swann then dealt with Rangana Herath, who swiped across the line and was trapped lbw. At that stage Swann had figures of four for four in four overs. There followed the briefest period of minor resistance from Sri Lanka as Thisara Perera and Ajantha Mendis clung on, adding thirty between them. But the introduction of Broad quickly resulted in the former prodding to short-leg, where Bell was on hand to snatch a superb catch low down, before last man Suranga Lakmal looped an easy catch to Alastair Cook from a short ball to seal a truly stunning victory for England.
For today's Keith Telly Topping's 45(s) of the Day proof that a bush in the hand is worth several birds. Or something. Starting with yer actual Keith Telly Topping's own, particular, favourite Katie single.
Except, possibly, this one.
I suppose I better include The Hit as well!
And, finish off with one that was so good she couldn't resist doing it all over again later.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

And Don't It Feel Good?

Craig Roberts has confirmed that he will return to Being Human for the show's upcoming fourth series. The Submarine actor appeared in one episode of the supernatural drama's third run as the teenage vampire Adam, and reprised the role in online spin-off Becoming Human. 'I believe I am going back for an episode,' he told SFX. '[But] they've not mentioned too much about Becoming Human. If that does get mentioned again I'm all for doing it because I thought it was a great thing.' The actor insisted that he is 'really happy' to be playing Adam again. 'It's a fantastic show,' he said. 'If Becoming Human wants to go again [too], I'm game. I love the character so much,' he insisted. 'I've never really played a character like that. I'm always playing the geek, so to play a kid who is very energetic when he wants to be, and who is always trying to get the girls, was really cool.' The fourth series of Being Human will begin filming next month and is expected to be broadcast on BBC3 in early 2012.

Torchwood creator Russell Davies has claimed that new ten-part series Miracle Day was 'written to clash.' The new run, a co-production between Starz and the BBC, will see Torchwood agents Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) and Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) cross paths with CIA agent Rex (Mekhi Phifer). 'It's literally the same show, but [it] transplants itself to America,' Davies told SFX. 'It's absolutely based on the story, so we haven't had to relaunch it.' The former Doctor Who showrunner admitted that he initially had some concerns about the US move. 'I did wonder about that,' he confessed. '[I thought] "Is it gonna look strange when the rushes come in, is it gonna be this weird combination?" But it's written to clash. Rex is the most swaggering, confident, brilliant American, and Gwen is not a shrinking violet. Put those two together and it's just combustible!' Davies also claimed that Miracle Day's premise, in which no-one on Earth is able to die, will lead to 'some terrible things. By episode five, they start to categorise what life is, and once human beings are in charge of what life and death is, that's open to corruption,' he suggested.

Rob Lowe may be a Hollywood legend, but he showed his down-to-earth side as the celebrity highlight of the Hay Festival. The star of hit series The West Wing and Brothers and Sisters entertained a sold-out audience with tales of his hellraising past as a member of the so-called Brat Pack. He also spoke of his struggles with alcohol and time in rehab. But his sober life now included a fish and chips lunch outside Hay. Lowe, promoting his memoirs, Stories I Only Tell My Friends, was asked about his childhood, and spoke of his mother having had mental health issues. 'She struggled with depression,' he said. 'But she gave me a tremendous gift that I try to give to my boys today - that life is for the taking. I'm indebted to her for that. And she gave me a love of language.' Describing himself as 'a nerd,' Lowe admitted he had enjoyed playing the part of the 'cool kid.' But he added his decision to become an actor at the age of eight was 'an epiphany. I had a dream for what I wanted to be,' he said. 'My parents took me to a theatre production of Oliver! I knew then that's what I was going to devote my life to.' A video had emerged of him having sex with a girl, sixteen and underage, while attending a Democratic National Convention in 1988, which all but destroyed his film career. 'Everybody who has ever struggled with addiction or alcoholism has that moment where you think "I've got to stop doing this,"' he said. 'My mother was on the answering machine saying 'pick up the phone, your grandfather's had a heart attack. I was there not picking up. I thought "I'm going to finish all this tequila." I looked at myself in the mirror and knew it was over.' Lowe then spent a month at a rehabilitation centre. 'I had been carrying a card in my wallet for a year of an alcohol counsellor. I made the call and they shifted me off to rehab,' he said. 'I loved it because it gave me the tools to live the life I wanted to live.' Lowe, whose films included St Elmo's Fire, Masquerade and Bad Influence, found a new generation of fans as White House communications deputy Sam Seaborn in The West Wing. Asked by a fan if he had considered a career in politics like Seaborn, or become governor of California like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lowe said he didn't know if he would become a politician, but has 'an interest in service. I don't know if it would ever be in politics in some way,' he said. 'But at some point in my life I would like to serve.' Lowe said his new focus was as a businessman, after buying Miramax film studios. He had started up his own film finance company and purchased Miramax but will continue to act. And in a mix of the star, and the down-to-earth guy, Lowe left Hay to watch the football - flying to London to support Manchester United in Wembley's Champions' League Final. But, despite Rob's support, The scum got a reet tasty hiding off Barca. Which was nice.

BBC4's fifty five million smackers commissioning budget faces a major squeeze, with the channel running more repeats and less original content, as part of the latest proposals to emerge from the BBC's Delivering Quality First initiative according to Broadcast. The - utterly stupid - idea was one of several discussed at a two-day meeting in Caversham on 12 and 13 May, during which proposals from all nine workstreams were put to director general Mark Thompson. While some ideas were rejected outright, others will be taken to the next stage. According to 'a source,' the emphasis was on 'minimising the headlines' and finding where cuts could be made that would have the least impact on viewers. However, the most far-reaching ideas still on the table are understood to include slimming down BBC4, the axing of BBC2 daytime and a reduction in resource allocated to the BBC News channel. The next step is to consider the ideas holistically to assess their impact on each other as well as ensuring the BBC still meets its public service licence obligations, despite the twenty per cent savings. The integrated proposals will then be presented to the executive board, and then to the BBC Trust in July. However, from next month, BBC directors will hold briefings to share emerging thinking with staff. Titled The World in 2016, it gives an outline of what audiences, technology and media rivals could look like in five years' time. In an e-mail to staff this week, Thompson said: 'Nothing has yet been formally proposed, let alone decided - which is why you should continue to take those alleged "leaks" with a big pinch of salt.' A total of ten thousand BBC staff have been involved in the recommendations by attending briefings, meeting with the workstreams or contributing to the Yammer site.

Coming of Age, How Not To Live Your Life and Lunch Monkeys have all been dropped by BBC3. Zai Bennett, the channel's controller, told Broadcast that the three comedy series will not be returning with new episodes. '[They were] good to the channel, but have had their time,' he explained. Although, I think you'll find that's the first time that anyone has used the words 'Coming of Age' and 'good' in the same sentence. When they weren't being ironic, anyway. A Christmas special of How Not To Live Your Life is still being planned, however. Meanwhile, Bennett has ordered a review of programming including Snog Marry Avoid and The Lock Up but refused to say whether those formats would also be axed. 'The whole point of a review is that we have identified there is an issue and we will work out what to do,' he explained. Although the sixth form comedy Coming Of Age was derided by critics for its base humour and general crapness, it proved relatively popular with its target audience. Glakes, basically. However office sitcom Lunch Monkeys never found a strong audience, with its first series averaging just three hundred and twenty five thousand viewers.

Lord Robert Winston has reportedly threatened to quit the BBC due to it resting his landmark documentary series Child Of Our Time. The seventy-year-old, who has fronted a number of the corporation's flagship science programmes, has accused bosses of abandoning the show and says that he is now 'looking at other outlets' to continue his presenting. Winston told the Independent: 'I was under the impression they had dropped the series. They have stopped filming as the children reach adolescence. I would have thought puberty was an important stage of development that would produce a valuable, public service programme, provided it's done with everyone's consent.' The Labour peer then added: 'Perhaps the BBC are preparing the way for someone else to front the programmes?' Child Of Our Time, which debuted in the year 2000, follows a group of twenty five children born at the start of the new millennium as they become adults. The children were last seen in a two-part special, The Big Personality Test, which was broadcast a year ago. The BBC hinted at such a move, telling the newspaper: 'It's a twenty-year project so there can be changes to the format. It's very much active and a team is working on it now and working closely with the families.' A spokesman added: 'All the children are facing big milestones - starting new schools, becoming teenagers, entering puberty - so we would like to give them some privacy. Some children may not wish to continue being placed under the television spotlight.'

Cheryl Cole will not return to The X Factor UK, it has been reported. The singer was rumoured to be rejoining the show after being sacked from the American version earlier this week. Cole was given until midnight on Saturday to commit to the show ahead of Wednesday's auditions, but 'ignored Simon Cowell's calls' as the deadline approached, claims the News of the World. A 'source' allegedly said: 'The brutal truth is that no-one is bigger than the show - not Cheryl and not even Simon. We have bent over backwards for Cheryl and she hasn't engaged with us. She is out. That's showbusiness.' However, a 'close friend' of Cole's allegedly said: 'They set her a ridiculous deadline. They have basically done the same to Cheryl as they did to Dannii Minogue - given her an offer she couldn't accept.' Well, she could have. She just chose not to. Slight difference, matey. 'They did this because they knew Cheryl wasn't going to come back and they wanted it to appear that the decision was theirs. It wasn't - it was Cheryl's decision to go. There was a very slim chance she might have considered going back at a later date. But her heart wasn't in it. And once that deadline was set she was gone.' Manager will.i.am is also said to be 'furious' with Cowell over the decision to replace Cole in the US with the show's co-host Nicole Scherzinger. Cowell, Paula Abdul and LA Reid remain as judges. Cole has reportedly told 'friends' that she never wanted to be a judge on The X Factor USA in the first place. She claims, allegedly, that Simon Cowell pushed her into the role and that she trusted his advice. Cole is quoted by the News of the World as saying: 'After what happened in my marriage I made it quite clear I found it impossible to trust another man. But I did trust Simon, I let myself believe he had my best interests at heart. Now he's done this to me. I never actually wanted to do the American show, I'm not a TV star. I had so many reservations. But he pushed me into doing it. He told me I'd be a star over there. And then he didn't even give me a chance to prove myself. I was gone after four days. I've been used. It's cruel. I have no idea what I'm going to do now. My life has been turned upside down. X Factor isn't my world. It's not the be-all or end-all of my career, and I have no desire to keep trying to break America. I actually like the fact I'm not that well-known over there and I can live more of a normal life when I'm there.' She apparently insisted that she had 'good banter' with the other judges and that she had 'chemistry' with Paula Abdul. Brushing off claims that she will be paid her full one million quid plus fee, Cole reportedly added that lawyers will decide the details of her contract termination.

Amanda Holden has admitted that she is unsure about her future on Britain's Got Talent. Holden, who remains the only original judge on the panel, confessed that she can't be certain Simon Cowell will invite her back to judge another series. She told the News of the World: 'Who knows what the line-up will be next year? I always said five years would do me and I've done that this series. If I can get more out of it then great, but Simon will know when it is time for me to go. I'd like the panel to stay as it is but if it doesn't then it doesn't - and whatever he decides to do, I've had a ball. I think Britain's Got Talent will go on and on. Every year I think people are going to run out or there will be a lack of imagination, but every year there's an act we've never seen or someone thinks outside the box. But a good change I would like to see is each judge to mentor people - like David Hasselhoff to look after nutty acts, Michael McIntyre the children and Simon the dancers. It would add a different dimension and I think there's room to improve and develop it.'

The IT Crowd creator Graham Linehan has suggested that the show could end after the next series. A fifth run of episodes has already been commissioned by Channel Four. Linehan has now told the Chortle website that he will try to write the episodes this year but suggested that the show would not continue with a sixth series. 'I think one more series to really say goodbye to the characters and the fans,' he said. 'I'm not rushing into it because I don't want it to be a zombie series where the show is dead but its body is still moving around.' The fourth series of The IT Crowd was broadcast last summer, finishing on a record high in the ratings.

Billy Connolly has broken his rib after crashing his trike on America's Route 66. You've heard of that, surely? It goes from St Louis, down to Well goes from St. Louie down to Missouri, Oklahoma City looks oh so pretty. Et cetera. The sixty eight-year-old comic skidded on gravel as he was making a TV documentary about the two thousand four hundred and eighty eight-mile highway this week. Although he wasn't traveling fast, he slipped off his seat, and the trike ran over him. A member of the production crew told the Sun: 'Billy was in severe pain and we were all worried because he couldn't get a breath due to his busted rib. An ambulance was called and he was rushed to hospital. But after treatment he checked into a hotel to rest until he was fit enough to get back on the road. That took three days.' Billy Connolly's Route 66, following his journey from Chicago to LA ('almost two thousand miles all the way'), is due to be shown on ITV later this year.

Emmerdale has undergone 'a major rebrand' as part of plans to modernise the ITV soap. ITV has unveiled a new logo and title sequence for the flagship drama, as well as a refreshed theme tune. Emmerdale's website has also been relaunched to reflect the new look. The rebrand was carried out by design agency Lambie-Nairn to build on the show's 'increasingly current content and to celebrate its enduring success.' Executive producer Steve November said: 'Our aim is to refresh perceptions of the programme. Emmerdale has a unique voice and we wanted to reinforce in that by giving it a fresher, more contemporary feel, to reflect the richness and diversity of its characters and storylines.' It follows the five million pound refurbishment of Emmerdale's Kirkstall Road studio in Leeds this year and the introduction of new series producer Stuart Blackburn.

Cabinet Minster Chris Huhne might already have enough scandal on his plate, but a comedian has revealed how he once placed a vice advertisement in a London magazine – while he was still a schoolboy. The famously ambitious Lib Dem decided to launch a capital-wide school magazine called The Free Press, but he didn't sell enough adverts and needed to fill the space. His friend, Charmian Hughes, now a stand-up comedian, told blogger John Fleming: 'His friends were all making up ads he could stick in. I was about fourteen or fifteen and I wanted to impress him like mad and I remember we were sitting in a Tube train when I suggested, "How about an advert for Madame Hughes, Maison de Plaisir with my mother's phone number? That would be good!" I forgot all about it until one day the phone rang. I picked it up and a husky male voice said: "Is that Madame Hughes?" My blood ran cold, my stomach sank. I was terrified my mother would hear me talking to the man on the phone and I whispered: "It's all a ghastly mistake. A joke. I'm a schoolgirl." The man was very understanding and rang off. My mother was and is a terrifying person with a terrible raging temper. The next phone call was from a tabloid newspaper reporter investigating "the schoolgirl brothel." My mother answered. I heard her Medusa-like voice shrieking and threatening and the reporter scampered away never to ring again. When I told her what we'd done, she summoned Chris round. "Are you going to sue me?" he asked in his most sophisticated timbre. "Sue you?" my mother sneered, "A silly stupid little arrogant schoolboy like you? You must be joking, but I’m going to speak to your parents!"'

Claudia Winkleman jokingly criticised her own talk show in front of a studio audience, a scum tabloid report has claims. According to the Sun, the Film 2011 presenter described her upcoming Channel Four series King Of... as 'absolutely the shittest show you will ever see.' She is quoted as saying: 'Thank you so much for coming, [but] I don't think it's going on telly. I think it's an elaborate home video,' before adding, 'I look like shit. If I go into labour, whatever, I think it's a pony.' Winkleman recently quit the Strictly Come Dancing spin-off It Takes Two due to her pregnancy, which she announced in March. Winkleman and husband Kris Thykier will welcome their third child later this year. The couple are already parents to eight-year-old Jake and four-year-old Matilda.

Al Gore has said that the treatment of Current TV in Italy by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation shows the potential impact of the company's proposed takeover of Sky. A dispute erupted last week after Gore claimed that Current TV had been dropped from News Corp's Sky Italia after the network hired left-leaning news anchor Keith Olbermann, who has often criticised Murdoch's media empire. News Corp hit back by saying that the decision was purely financial and accusing Current TV, which launched on Sky Italia in 2008, of demanding more money despite prime time viewing on the channel having fallen by forty per cent. Sky Italia said that Current TV had demanded double its carriage fee, but Current TV says that it had not made an offer before being informed of the cancellation last month. Current TV claims that Sky Italia offered to pay seventy per cent less than the carriage fees it paid under its original deal with Current. The company also denied that its viewing has declined in Italy, claiming that ratings had actually increased by five hundred and fifty per cent year-on-year in 2010. The decision to drop Current TV from Sky Italia has led to protests in Italy, including nearly forty thousand people joining a Facebook campaign to save the channel. Former US vice-president Gore, who flew to Rome last week to lend his support to the campaign, accused News Corp of an 'abuse of power' in the case. He also noted that the situation should raise more concerns over News Corp's bid to acquire the sixty one per cent of pay-TV satellite broadcaster Sky that it does not already own. The deal is widely expected to gain UK government approval next month via the vile and odious rascal Hunt. 'The larger question much bigger than Current is whether or not our democracies can thrive in the age of television when the increasing concentration of ownership by large corporate conglomerates with an ideological agenda and a quest for power, leads them to control access to the public square to the civic commons, to the conversation of democracy,' he said. 'In this time of rapid political, economic and social transition, the future of healthy democracies depends on independent journalism that is untethered and unafraid. We at Current have dedicated our international media platform to unleash truth tellers, and there is no more critical time for truth telling than in Italy right now.' Joel Hyatt, who founded Current TV with Gore six years ago, added: 'If regulators in the United Kingdom or the European Union are wondering what the impact will be of having a satellite system totally owned and controlled by News Corporation, they need only look to Italy. Sky Italia - in what can only be described as a flagrant abuse of its dominant market position - just kicked off the only independent news and information network on its platform without warning, and despite repeated assurances that Current's contract be renewed. It is ironic that Sky markets its satellite offering as being the 'Freedom Choice'."

No stranger to controversial marketing campaigns, Irish bookmaker Paddy Power has complained that several national newspapers refused to publish its latest advert featuring former Big Brother tart contestant Imogen Thomas, next to the strapline Blow Me! Tasteful. The reality TV regular was picked for the Paddy Power campaign after newspaper claims that she had an affair with the footballer Ryan Giggs. You might have read about it. Once an MP talked about it, that is. Because, before that, everybody was completely in the dark. The adverts were planned to coincide with Saturday's UEFA Champions League final at Wembley, when Giggs joined his Manchester United team mates to lose, miserably, to Barcelona for European football's biggest prize. The campaign, which featured Thomas in a Manchester United shirt, debuted on Thursday but without the new strapline. It has been running in Metro, the Sun, the Daily Lies, the Daily Record and The Times. A later advert featured Thomas holding a whistle, next to the words Blow Me!
A Paddy Power spokesman confirmed that a number of newspapers had rejected the wording, but said the company hoped to have a new version in time for Saturday's papers. 'When an ad gets pulled at the last minute it's all hands on deck,' he added. Thomas is said to have been paid a 'high five figure' sum for the endorsement. The bookmaker posted a video of the photoshoot on YouTube. Paddy Power is known for its controversial advertising campaigns – its TV commercial showing a cat being kicked into a tree by a blind football player was the most complained about UK advert of 2010.

Smug wanker Jack Whitehall - who did the almost-impossible this week are var nigh ruined an episode of Have I Got News For You - will star in a new Channel Four student sitcom created by Peep Show creators Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain. So, that'll be worth avoiding.

Arqiva is to shut down its SeeSaw online TV venture after failing to secure an investment partner to keep the service going. The transmissions operator will close SeeSaw in June, just sixteen months after the video on-demand website launched offering catch-up and on-demand content from broadcasters such as the BBC, Channel Four and MTV. SeeSaw chief executive Pierre-Jean Sebert left the company in February this year after Arqiva merged its three divisions into two, meaning SeeSaw shifted to the broadcast and media unit, run by Nick Thompson. Arqiva appointed Ingenious Media to find an investment partner or buyer for SeeSaw, but the company informed the website's twenty eight staff last Friday that the search had been unsuccessful. SawSaw said in a blog post: 'We're sad to announce that next month will be the end of the road for SeeSaw. Launched in February last year, SeeSaw has become a great place to watch TV for millions of UK viewers. However, following a strategic review of its business activities Arqiva, our parent company, is no longer able to support the service. As it will soon be "goodbye" from SeeSaw, we'd like to take this opportunity to say a big 'thanks' for all your support, custom and loyalty over the last sixteen months. We're a small team but we hope we've made a big difference and that you've had fun watching TV with us.' Arqiva created SeeSaw after spending eight million pounds to acquire the technology developed for Project Kangaroo, the BBC Worldwide, ITV and Channel Four IPTV joint venture that was blocked by the Competition Commission. SeeSaw is expected to officially shut down around 20 June and costs related to the business will be included in Arqiva's current financial year.

The American actor Jeff Conaway, a star of the 1970s musical Grease, has died aged sixty. Conaway played the swaggering teenager Kenickie, alongside John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. He also played Bobby in the comedy series Taxi and appeared in the cult SF series Babylon 5. His family decided to switch off his life-support machine after he had spent several days in an induced coma. The actor had battled for years against drug and alcohol addiction, something that he blamed on pain from a lingering back injury. He spoke openly about his addiction on the Celebrity Rehab reality show in 2008, his last TV appearance. Conaway made his Broadway debut in 1960 at the age of ten in the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama All the Way Home. He got his big break with Grease in 1978, but also suffered a back injury during filming which led to an addiction to painkillers and other drugs. Interviewed by Reuters news agency this month, his manager Phil Brock said: 'Putting aside his demons, Jeff is the nicest, kindest, gentlest soul. He's a wonderful man, which makes it doubly sad that he is unable to conquer drugs. As a human being, he's the person who'd literally give the shirt off his back for someone.' Apart from Grease, he was perhaps best known for the role of taxi driver and struggling actor Bobby Wheeler in the 1978-1983 hit TV sitcom Taxi, which also starred Danny DeVito and Christopher Lloyd. His CV also included the 1992 movie Bikini Summer II which he directed.

US musician and poet Gil Scott-Heron has died aged sixty two. The cause of his death, in a New York hospital, is not clear. Scott-Heron's material spanned soul, jazz, blues and the spoken word and his 1970s work heavily influenced the US hip-hop and rap scenes. There was a strong political element to the Chicago-born artist's work; one of his most famous compositions was 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.' Scott-Heron's friend Doris Nolan said the musician had died at St Luke's Hospital on Friday afternoon, the Associated Press news agency reports. She said Scott-Heron had become sick upon returning from a European trip. Gil Scott-Heron was born in Chicago, but spent his early childhood in Jackson, Tennessee, the home of his maternal grandmother Lillie Scott. Gil's mother, Bobbie Scott-Heron, sang with the New York Oratorio Society. His Jamaican father, Gil Heron, nicknamed 'The Black Arrow', was a football player who, in the 1950s, became the first black athlete to play for Glasgow's Celtic. Scott-Heron's career began in 1970 with the LP Small Talk at 125th and Lenox which featured such ground-breaking compositions as 'Whitey on the Moon' and 'The revolution Will Not be televised.' He was often described as the godfather of rap. However, the artist himself rejected this title. 'If there was any individual initiative that I was responsible for it might have been that there was music in certain poems of mine, with complete progression and repeating "hooks," which made them more like songs than just recitations with percussion,' Scott-Heron wrote in the introduction to his 1990 Now and Then collection of poems. His most recent CD I'm New Here - released last year - was widely acclaimed and brought him to the attention of a new generation. Among the rappers immediately tweeting tributes were Talib Kweli and Chuck D of Public Enemy. The musician's publisher Jamie Byng remembered him as 'a giant of a man, a truly inspirational figure whom I loved like a father and a brother.' Scott-Heron infected people who encountered him with his 'singularity of vision, his charismatic personality, his moral beauty and his willingness to take his fellow travellers through the full range of emotions,' Byng wrote. 'Throughout a magnificent musical career, he helped people again and again, with his willingness and ability to articulate deep truths, through his eloquent attacks on injustices and by his enormous compassion for people's pain. Hundreds of thousands of people saw Gil perform live over the decades, always with remarkable bands, and few came away untouched by his magnetism, humility, biting wit and warmth of spirit.' Lemn Sissay, a friend of Scott-Heron's who produced a documentary on his work, told the BBC he was 'a polymath' who 'spoke crucially of the issues of his people. In the late 60 and early 70s, black poets were the news-givers, because their stories were not covered in truth in the mainstream media,' he said.

Flick Colby, the dancer and choreographer who helped make Top of the Pops troupe Pan's People a national institution, has died at the age of sixty five. Colby co-founded the group, who, in the days before music videos, accompanied hits on the weekly TV show when artists could not perform. Originally a member of the group - along with Babs Lord, Louise Clarke, Ruth Pearson, Andi Rutherford and Dee Dee Wilde, Colby gradually stood down from dancing duties towards the end of 1971 to concentrate full-time on choreographing the group's routines. Pan's People first appeared on the flagship BBC music show in 1968 and spent eight years as the resident dancers. Top of the Pops continued to use professional dancers until 1981, with Colby remaining as the show's choreographer through the entire period. Pan's People were followed by Ruby Flipper, which featured male and female dancers. However, there was pressure to return to the all-girl format, and after six months Legs and Co were created, and named after a viewer competition. Colby died of bronchial pneumonia at her home in Clinton, New York, on Thursday, the group's publicist said. She also worked on other television shows including Sez Les, The Two Ronnies, The Black and White Minstrels Show and The Goodies.

An octopus predicted that Manchester United would beat Barcelona in the UEFA Champion's League final at Wembley on Saturday. Cephalopod mollusc Iker chose to eat a sardine from a cylinder featuring the Manchester United crest, rather than one boasting Barcelona's. So, he got that one wrong, anyway.

For the latest Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day we have, I'm afraid to say, the happiest song ever recorded by anyone. Come on, be honest, you've got to be a professional misanthrope not to crack a smile when Katrina and her Waves start playing this one. And, yer actual Keith Telly Topping says that as a professional misanthrope himself, dear blog reader.